Urban Acupuntures – Urban Social Design

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URBAN ACu PunC tures

THIRD section

Urban Social Design JosĂŠ Luis Vallejo Mateo | ecosistema urbano

ecosistema urbano is a Madrid-based group of architects and urban designers operating within the fields of urbanism, architecture, engineering and sociology. We define our approach as urban social design by which we understand the design of environments, spaces, dynamics and tools in order to improve the self-organization of citizens, social interaction within communities and their relationship with the environment. Over decades cities have been conceived, designed and built from a physical point of view mainly considering their infrastructures, buildings, technologies, materials, geometry... and completely forgetting about the citizens. This dominant perception has led us to end up believing that reality and

Architecture is usually about creating beautiful buildings (...). People, fluxes, behavior and the social dimension of our work are usually not mentioned. 88

processes are final and closed situations, rather than processes, relationships, patterns, and significant networks. Architecture is usually about creating beautiful, sophisticated buildings and complex geometries and Urban Design is always approached from a bird’s eye view and a single designer’s perspective. People, fluxes, behavior and the social dimension of our work are usually not mentioned or considered. Social, environment and technology These are the three main topics that underlie our approach to urban issues and architectural design. Our professional research, as well as our teaching, focuses on exploring new possibilities through technology to streamline processes and the relationship between people and their environment, aiming to improve everyday life and social issues and promoting interdisciplinary cooperation in doing so. ecosistema urbano philosophy can be shown around 3 strategies linked to 3 case studies, which are all related to Madrid, the city where we are based. 1. Transforming the existing Instead of starting from scratch, we are very interested in working with the existing conditions and urban environment as a way to enhance creativity and challenge ourselves within the physical, landscape, formal and economic constraints of the existing city.

Eco-boulevard, public event under one of the air-trees (copyright: Emilio P. Doiztua).

Eco-boulevard, one of the air-trees (copyright: Emilio P. Doiztua).

Case study: Ecoboulevard in Madrid’s outskirts Program: Ecological Boulevard for a social and bioclimatically conditioned public space. The Eco-boulevard in Vallecas can be defined as an urban recycling operation consisting of the following actions: insertion of air trees - social dynamizers over an existing built-up area, densification of existing alignment trees and reduction and asymmetrical arrangement of wheeled traffic circulation. Superficial interventions reconfiguring the existing urbanization (perforations, fillings, paint, etc.) which defaces the executed kerb development. There are two main objectives: one social, aimed at generating activity, and another environmental, the bioclimatic adaptation of an outdoor space, achieved with a passive air conditioning system based on chilling by evapotranspiration. This system, commonly used in the greenhouse industry, is capable of lowering the temperature by around 10º C, depending on the humidity conditions and temperature. Air trees are exportable objects, so they may be re-installed in similar locations or in other types of situations requiring an urban activity or reactivation.

Air Tree and public space design at Shanghai 2010 World Expo (copyright: Emilio P. Doiztua).

Air Tree at Shanghai 2010 World Expo (copyright: Emilio P. Doiztua).

2. Designing responsive urban environments Working beyond the physical dimension and materiality, incorporating other parameters such as air quality, temperature, ICT (Information and communication technology) and energy consumption as part of the design. Designs that react/respond, in real time, to the degree of occupancy, climatic and lighting conditions, interacting with the specific physical conditions and the desires and needs of the users. The urban environment as an evolving/changing background for urban life. Case study: Air Tree Shanghai 2010 World Expo Program: Public Space and outdoor pavilion for the City of Madrid. The Air Tree emerges as an experimental prototype of intervention in contemporary urban public space, capable of reactivating sites and creating the necessary conditions to empower the use of collective space. It is conceived as technological urban furniture, which also serves as an interactive connective node between Madrid and Shanghai for users. Its different technical layers enable multiple final configurations and a myriad of intermediate positions (opaque, translucent, transparent, bright, interactive, open, etc.). Different fabrics for video projections allow an unlimited combination of scenarios adaptable to citizens’ needs. Its appearance can be transformed throughout the daily cycle, as well as the different seasons. It is connected by sensors in real-time with the climatic conditions of Shanghai, constantly adopting the optimal physical and energy consumption configuration to generate climatic comfort for the citizens. A 7.3 m diameter fan suspended at a height of 11.5 m by a tensegrity structure in the centre of the space provides air flows inside the space. The fan can be lowered several meters to come closer to the ground using a telescopic system. The exact position and speed are determined at each moment according to the instant climatic conditions of the environment, monitored in the surroundings of the structure in real time.


Ec贸polis Plaza, public space and kindergarten design (copyright: Emilio P. Doiztua).

Ecópolis Plaza, kindergarten (copyright: Emilio P. Doiztua).

3. Raising environmental awareness Making the environmental agenda visible, making it transparent and accessible to everyone as a way of making a statement in the city, reaching a broad audience, raising awareness, creating curiosity and leaving a cultural legacy – a “green footprint” on every project we implement. Case study: Ecópolis Plaza in Madrid’s outskirts Program: Ecological reconfiguration of a former industrial site into a new public space. The Ecópolis Plaza is conceived as a source of learning for citizens, educating on energy saving and the optimization of natural resources. The project integrates ecology into everyday life, distancing it from theme parks and museums. In this project, architecture is challenged beyond formal experimentation in order to transform a vacant lot on the outskirts of Madrid into a space for social interaction. Plaza Ecópolis brings together a kindergarten, a play space for kids, and public space on the same site. The solution combines passive energy saving systems together with active systems, providing an A-grade eco-label, the highest in Spanish law. In addition, all the waste water from the building is naturally purified by a macrophyte lagoon incorporated in the public space. This recycled water is stored in an underground gravel 96

tank and then used for all the irrigation needs of the garden. This artificial landscape emulates a natural riverbank. The surrounding topography creates an enclosure and buffer area protecting the building and users from the aggressive industrial environment.

ECO-BOULEVARD | MADRID (ES) Client: Municipality of Madrid, EMVS Date: 2004-2007 Status: Built Program: Ecological Boulevard for a social and bioclimatically conditioned public space. Area: 550x50 meters Scope: Design, contruction document, energy strategy and construction follow up AIR TREE | SHANGHAI (CN) Client: Fundaci贸n Madrid Global Date: 2009-2010 Status: Built Program: Public space and outdoor pavilion for the City of Madrid. Scope: Design, energy strategy and construction follow up process. Ec贸polis PLAZA | RIVAS VACIAMADRID (ES) Client: Municipality of Rivas Vaciamadrid Date: 2009/2010 Status: Built Program: Ecological reconfiguration of an old industrial site into a new public space Scope: Design, strategy and construction follow up.